Investigator Exclusive: Parents shocked license renewed at daycare where felon worked

8:35 PM, Dec 9, 2010   |    comments
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Channel 3 News reviewed state records and found the state is in the process of revoking the licenses of 16 daycare centers in Ohio this year and several of them have been cited for hiring employees with criminal backgrounds.

At Happyworks, one of its employees, custodian James Ballinger, was found with guns and knives following a stand-off with police. Ballinger no longer works for the daycare. 

Parents we spoke with expressed concern, surprise and shock that this could happen.

"That's like putting the kids in danger, I mean, they need to do background checks when they hire somebody," Waymon Donat said.

But another parent, Jamey Jones, said she didn't object to the state renewing the license.

"He (Ballinger) did not take care of the children. The people who do take care of the children bring the utmost care to the children," Jones said.

Ballinger had lived in a second-floor apartment above the daycare. It was news to Jenny Lozano that Ballinger was hired without undergoing a background check.

"They just never mentioned it to me, and as a parent, I am supposed to know about that," Lozano said.

Daycare centers aren't required to inform parents verbally if they are out of compliance, but they do have to post the information someplace inside their facility.

Channel 3 News was not allowed inside Happyworks.

Administrator Lisa Janik told the Investigator Tom Meyer that she requested a background check on Ballinger, then rushed inside the daycare and shut the door.

Records show the state is revoking licenses of daycare centers that employed criminals, including Little Feet preschool in Broadview Heights, All His Angels Child Care in Cleveland, and Looney Toons Child Care Center in Cleveland Heights.

Administrators for Looney Toons contacted Channel 3 News and said it planned to sue the state because they feel their facility is in compliance. 

State Sen. Dale Miller thought it was "outrageous and surprising" that the state didn't move to revoke the license of Happyworks.

But the state said it revokes licenses primarily for serious, repeated violations, including the hiring of felons.

The state said it considers the failure of Happyworks to request a background check on Ballinger a "serious" violation.

While it decided to not yank its license, the state is proceeding to revoke the license of a daycare center in Cleveland that doesn't have any serious violations.


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